Tag Archives: 17th-century art

#FineArtFriday: Merry Company by Dirck Hals 1635

Vrolijke gezelschap

Merry company *oil on panel *30 x 51 cm *signed : D Hals 1635

Artist: Dirck Hals (1591–1656)

Title: Merry Company

Date: 1635

Medium: oil on panel

Dimensions: height: 30 cm (11.8 in); width: 51.1 cm (20.1 in)

Collection: Mauritshuis

What I love about this painting:

Perhaps we are celebrating the engagement of the young couple on the far right—a fashionably, yet modestly, dressed young woman and a gallant young man holding hands and gazing at each other.

The hostess, in the center, looks up and greets her guests who have entered to the left of us. She gestures to the food on the table, inviting them to sit. Are they the future in-laws?

The host looks directly at us, the viewer. He greets us as his guests and he too gestures to the table—join us! Sit, eat, and we’ll have an evening to remember. A single crystal wine glass shows us that wine is being served but companionship and food are what the party is really about. We are here to meet and get to know each other.

An engagement is a reason to gather and celebrate—so let us join this merry company and spend an evening with friends, partying like it’s 1635.

About the setting of this painting:

Dirck Hals has given us the image of friends partying in someone’s home. This is clearly not set in a tavern, as the walls are clean, freshly plastered and painted, and the fireplace at the far left has an ornate mantel. It is for heating the room only, not for cooking. The mantel’s aesthetics are part of the room’s decor.

The scene is set in a dining room. We see six pewter tankards proudly displayed on the wall above a sideboard, along with large pewter platters, signs that this is an intimate family room. We know they are pewter because of the dark bluish color of the metal. These are serving vessels every home needed in the 17th century, but only the wealthier middle-class could afford pewter.

And if you could afford to have a separate room just for dining, you would have your drinking vessels and platters displayed above a sideboard in the manner we see here.

In the background to the right, a fine, large landscape painting also indicates a prosperous home.

Everyone is dressed in their best clothes. The modest yet stylish dress of the guests also point to a domestic scene rather than a tavern. Their garments are made from expensive fabrics, silks and satins, and they wear the immense ruffs of crisp white lace that only the upper classes could afford. These are prosperous people, traders in cloth perhaps—but no matter what they trade, they are gathered to celebrate something, and we have been invited to join them.

Taverns and the poorer classes had either wooden tankards and bowls or fired clay mugs and platters. If they had an object made of pewter, it would be put away for safekeeping. The innkeepers and owners of public houses wouldn’t keep tankards where they could be knocked down or stolen.

About the Artist, Via Wikipedia:

Dirck Hals (19 March 1591 – 17 May 1656), born at Haarlem, was a Dutch Golden Age painter of merry company scenes, festivals and ballroom scenes. He played a role in the development of these types of genre painting. He was somewhat influenced by his elder brother Frans Hals but painted few portraits.

The Haarlem writer Samuel Ampzing mentions both brothers in his Praise of Haarlem with a poem stating that both brothers were exceptional; Frans painting his portraits “awake”, and Dirck painting his figures “purely”. [1]

About pewter, via Wikipedia:

Lidless mugs and lidded tankards may be the most familiar pewter artifacts from the late 17th and 18th centuries, although the metal was also used for many other items including porringers (shallow bowls), plates, dishes, basins, spoons, measures, flagons, communion cups, teapots, sugar bowls, beer steins (tankards), and cream jugs. In the early 19th century, changes in fashion caused a decline in the use of pewter flatware. At the same time, production increased of both cast and spun pewter tea sets, whale-oil lamps, candlesticks, and so on. Later in the century, pewter alloys were often used as a base metal for silver-plated objects. [2]

Credits and Attributions:

IMAGE: Merry Company by Dirck Hals, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons (accessed December 29, 2022).

[1] Wikipedia contributors, “Dirck Hals,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, Dirck Hals  (accessed December 29, 2022).

[2] Wikipedia contributors, “Pewter,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Pewter&oldid=1129247091 (accessed December 29, 2022).


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#FineArtFriday: Mountain River Landscape, Jan Brueghel the younger and Joos de Momper the Younger

A collaborative work by:

Jan Brueghel the Younger  (1601–1678)

Joos de Momper the Younger  (1564–1635)

Title:    An extensive mountainous river landscape with travellers near a village

Date:   by 1678

Medium: oil on panel

Dimensions: Height: 46.5 cm (18.3 in); Width: 66 cm (25.9 in)

Collection: Private collection

What I like about this painting:

There is an intensity, a richness of color in the foreground, and a subtle chastisement the subject matter of this picture.

In the center we have a beggar on his knees and praying before a cross, with his worldly possessions stacked beside him and his dog patiently waiting. All around him, the world is going about its business. Shepherds are moving their flocks from one field to another, a merchant urges his horse-drawn cart down the hill. Further down the hill, another merchant unloads a wagon. At the right of the beggar, two travelers on horseback ignore the outstretched hand of yet another beggar, this one an old woman.

This painting is relatively less known, a scene composed and executed by two prolific artists, both of whom were the sons of two of the more famous artists of the 17th century.

At first glance this seems like an ordinary bucolic view of a village and surrounding countryside. Yet, I think the lesson they offer us is clear—we go through life relatively comfortably, unaware of the opportunities for charity that are all around us.

Both artists made their livings from their work so there was a market for what they produced. For both Brueghel and de Momper, their fathers (and in Brueghel’s case, his grandfather ) were hard acts to follow.

About the Artists, via Wikipedia:

Joos de Momper the Younger  primarily painted landscapes, the genre for which he was highly regarded during his lifetime. Only a small number of the 500 paintings attributed to de Momper are signed and just one is dated. The large output points to substantial workshop participation. He often collaborated with figure painters such as Frans Francken II, Peter Snayers, Jan Brueghel the Elder and Jan Brueghel the Younger, usually on large, mountainous landscapes, whereby the other painters painted the staffage (people) and de Momper the landscape. His works were often featured in the prestigious gallery paintings of collections (real and imagined) from the early seventeenth century.

Jan Brueghel the Younger was born and died in the 17th century in Antwerp. He was trained by his father and spent his career producing works in a similar style. Along with his brother Ambrosius, he produced landscapes, allegorical scenes and other works of meticulous detail. Brueghel also copied works by his father and sold them with his father’s signature. His work is distinguishable from that of his parent by being less well executed and lighter.

In an episode of BBC’s Britain’s Lost Masterpieces broadcast in November 2019, a very badly damaged picture of a village scene, whose panel has spilt into two pieces, was located at Birmingham Art Gallery. Following a complete restoration by Simon Gillespie, the landscape was attributed to Joos de Momper and the figures were attributed to Jan the Younger.

Credits and Attributions:

Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Jan Brueghel II and Joos de Momper II – An extensive mountainous river landscape with travellers near a village.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Jan_Brueghel_II_and_Joos_de_Momper_II_-_An_extensive_mountainous_river_landscape_with_travellers_near_a_village.jpg&oldid=345270137 (accessed November 19, 2020).

Wikipedia contributors, “Jan Brueghel the Younger,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Jan_Brueghel_the_Younger&oldid=988772158 (accessed November 19, 2020).

Wikipedia contributors, “Joos de Momper,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Joos_de_Momper&oldid=988664019 (accessed November 19, 2020).

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#FineArtFriday: The Gust by Willem van de Velde the Younger ca. 1680

Title: De Windstoot (English: The Gust) by Willem van de Velde the Younger

Artist: Willem van de Velde the Younger  (1633–1707)

Genre: marine art. Description: A ship in high seas in a heavy storm. A three-masted ship on a high wave. To the left a smaller vessel.

Date: Circa 1680

Medium: oil on canvas

Dimensions: Height: 77 cm (30.3 in); Width: 63.5 cm (25 in)

Collection: Rijksmuseum

What I love about this painting:

Willem van de Velde the Younger captured the emotion of  a terrifying day at sea. Darkness in the middle of the day, the wild seas, raging winds–this ship is at the mercy of mountainous waves.

The storm hit suddenly, catching the ship before all the sails could be reefed. The force of the gale is such that the wind in the unfurled sail could capsize the ship. At the very least, they’ve most likely lost that sail.

Will those sailors make it back to port?

We can only hope.

Credits and Attributions:

De Windstoot (English: The Gust) by Willem van de Velde the Younger, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons 1707.

Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:De Windstoot – A ship in need in a raging storm (Willem van de Velde II, 1707).jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:De_Windstoot_-_A_ship_in_need_in_a_raging_storm_(Willem_van_de_Velde_II,_1707).jpg&oldid=387246804 (accessed October 23, 2020).

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